Former Kosovan premier released after arrest on Serbian warrant

By bne IntelliNews June 22, 2015

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Former Kosovan prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was briefly detained and held in Slovenia on a Serbian arrest warrant issued in 2006, was allowed to return to Kosovo on June 19.

Haradinaj, now an opposition leader, was detained by Slovenian police on his way home from Germany on June 17, when he was stopped at the airport in Ljubljana. He was subsequently released, but was kept at a hotel in Slovenia and was unable to leave the country as authorities seized his passport, media reported.

Haradinaj, who was prime minister of Kosovo for 100 days in 2004-05 before stepping down to deal with accusations of war crimes, is considered by many Kosovans to be a national hero but has long had to contend with accusations related to his actions as a former rebel commander during Kosovo’s struggle for independence.

Haradinaj was cleared of war crimes charges in 2008 and again in 2012, after undergoing two trials by a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. However, Serbia has accused Haradinaj of committing crimes against Serb civilians during the civil war in 1998-99 and still has an arrest warrant for him outstanding.

Haradinaj had initially been ordered to remain in Slovenia until a court ruled on his case. However, on June 19 Reuters reported that Haradinaj had been allowed by the court in Kranj, Slovenia, to return to Kosovo as he had diplomatic immunity.

“The Embassy of Kosovo in Ljubljana ... sent us a diplomatic note confirming that the Kosovo citizen was crossing Slovenia while returning from a special diplomatic mission abroad which is why Slovenia must enable him free passage," Reuters reported, quoting the court’s statement.

The Kosovan government said in a statement that it welcomed the Slovenian authorities' decision to end the proceedings against Haradinaj but considers the temporary ban on him leaving Slovenia as unfair as he was proved innocent by the international court with regard to these allegations.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Kosovo and Slovenia have traditionally enjoyed good diplomatic relations.

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